The January issue of Journal of Animal Ecology is out now, and includes the Animal Social Networks Special Feature. Joint with the Journal of Methods in Ecology and Evolution there was an open call for papers surrounding the topics of Animal Social Networks and their applications, and these papers are now released together across the two journals in the first issue of 2021.
Over the next few weeks several authors will give us their #StoryBehindThePaper to give us a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes in social network research. For now here is a quick overview of the papers in Journal of Animal Ecology special feature:
Detecting and quantifying social transmission using network‐based diffusion analysis – Matthew J. Hasenjager, Ellouise Leadbeater & William Hoppitt
In this “How to” paper the authors provide a step‐by‐step guide to network‐based diffusion analysis, accompanied by illustrative R code covering both basic and advanced topics, including multi‐network and dynamic network analyses. This method has emerged as a key tool for quantifying the effects of social transmission in the spread of innovations through wild animal populations.
The importance of individual‐to‐society feedbacks in animal ecology and evolution – Maurício Cantor, Adriana A. Maldonado‐Chaparro, Kristina B. Beck, Hanja B. Brandl, Gerald G. Carter, Peng He, Friederike Hillemann, James A. Klarevas‐Irby, Mina Ogino, Danai Papageorgiou, Lea Prox & Damien R. Farine
In this review paper the authors highlight the importance of feedbacks and co‐evolutionary pathways between animals’ behaviour and the structure of their societies; individual social decisions generate social structures that, in turn, influence their behaviour or state. Drawing insights from 14 classic and emergent research areas, the authors suggest that explicitly considering these feedbacks will reveal new dimensions to old questions in animal ecology and evolution.
Unifying spatial and social network analysis in disease ecology – Gregory F. Albery, Lucinda Kirkpatrick, Josh A. Firth & Shweta Bansal
A second review of the issue, this paper covers the increasingly widespread use of social network analysis in disease ecology, and highlights that this is often carried out without investigating spatial processes. The authors describe how uniting spatial and social network analyses can augment disease ecology investigations, outlining tools and methodology to do so.
Observing the unwatchable: Integrating automated sensing, naturalistic observations and animal social network analysis in the age of big data – Jennifer E. Smith & Noa Pinter‐Wollman
In this review, the authors discuss how automated detection and analysis of social interaction networks have fundamentally transformed the ways that ecologists can study social behaviour. Technology has advanced rapidly allowing the “unseeable” to be observed. The authors offer a practical guide for how researchers may thoughtfully combine new tools with classic behavioural and ecological monitoring methods within the context of animal social networks.
Wild zebra finches that nest synchronously have long‐term stable social ties – Hanja B. Brandl, Simon C. Griffith, Damien R. Farine & Wiebke Schuett
In this research paper the authors show that social effects can be carried over into the breeding season, and well beyond the breeding season as well as across different contexts. In this study on wild zebra finch colonies over two years birds that are more synchronized in their breeding time had stronger social ties than expected, and that these ties were carried across the years.
Group density, disease, and season shape territory size and overlap of social carnivores – Ellen E. Brandell, Nicholas M. Fountain‐Jones, Marie L. J. Gilbertson, Paul C. Cross, Peter J. Hudson, Douglas W. Smith, Daniel R. Stahler, Craig Packer & Meggan E. Craft
A population’s spatial organization has consequences for demography, pathogen transmission and competition. In this paper the authors used spatial data from Serengeti lions and Yellowstone wolves, to identify, compare and contrast the factors driving social group spatial organization. Group-level factors like number of groups and spatial organisation were more important, in both lions and wolves, than population factors. Importantly, epizootics can reduce territory size and overlap, and resource dispersion shapes space use for these species.
A methodological framework to analyse determinants of host–microbiota networks, with an application to the relationships between Daphnia magna’s gut microbiota and bacterioplankton – François Massol, Emilie Macke, Martijn Callens & Ellen Decaestecker
The authors present two methods to elucidate the determinants of bipartite interaction networks and apply them to host–microbiota networks obtained from experiments on Daphnia magna. The two methods, based on approximations of the incidence matrix, can assess the respective effects of external variables on network structure and test their significance.
Structural trade‐offs can predict rewiring in shrinking social networks – Damien R. Farine
In this research paper the author asks the question “How do networks rewire?” and delves into the subject of second‐degree rewiring, which is a model that provides global regulation of network properties without individuals requiring any information about local or global structure.
Testosterone‐mediated behaviour shapes the emergent properties of social networks – Roslyn Dakin, Ignacio T. Moore, Brent M. Horton, Ben J. Vernasco & T. Brandt Ryder
The authors studied how hormone physiology can influence the dynamics and network structure of social groups. They investigated the relationship between testosterone and social network dynamics in the wire‐tailed manakin, a lekking bird species in which male–male social interactions form complex social networks. The results demonstrate that social groups made up of high testosterone dominant males are less stable and have other features that impede the evolution of cooperation, showing that hormone‐mediated behaviour can shape the broader architecture of social groups.
Ant colony nest networks adapt to resource disruption – Dominic D. R. Burns, Daniel W. Franks, Catherine Parr & Elva J. H. Robinson
This research is novel because it was performed on a natural population, where experimental manipulation is often difficult. The authors performed a controlled experiment on 10 polydomous wood ant (Formica lugubris) colonies to test how changing the resource environment affects the social structure of a colony. The results give an interesting insight into what drives sub‐colonies of ants, and other animals, to cooperate with each other and what happens when these drivers of cooperation are disrupted.
Network‐level consequences of outgroup threats in banded mongooses: Grooming and aggression between the sexes – Elizabeth F. R. Preston, Faye J. Thompson, Samuel Ellis, Solomon Kyambulima, Darren P. Croft & Michael A. Cant
This research paper addresses changes in social network characteristics of individuals in response to intergroup conflict. It involves multiple social networks, and individual changes in behaviour across time. Simulated intergroup conflict experiments were performed on wild groups of banded mongooses and changes in both aggression and grooming networks were found after conflict.
Social network position experiences more variable selection than weaponry in wild subpopulations of forked fungus beetles – Vincent Formica, Hannah Donald, Hannah Marti, Zhazira Irgebay & Edmund Brodie III
This work is the one of the first comparisons of selection on social network characters among multiple populations. The results demonstrate the extreme context dependency of fitness relationships that involve network phenotypes and other social behaviours, thereby forcing a shift in how we view the adaptive nature of network properties.
Early‐life relationships matter: Social position during early life predicts fitness among female spotted hyenas – Julie W. Turner, Alec L. Robitaille, Patrick S. Bills & Kay E. Holekamp
Focusing on female spotted hyenas, the authors use a 25‐year dataset to test how the development of their social positions in associative, aggressive, and affiliative networks during three stages of development influences two measures of fitness. Looking at the social effects on fitness across multiple stages of development and types of social networks has rarely been done in any species.
Dynamic shifts in social network structure and composition within a breeding hybrid population – David M. Zonana, Jennifer M. Gee, Michael D. Breed & Daniel F. Doak
Social networks play an important role in population processes such as the transmission of disease and information, yet there has been less focus on how networks influence the exchange of genetic variation. By integrating analyses of social structure, phenotypic assortment, and reproductive outcomes within a quail hybrid zone, the authors demonstrate the utility of social networks for analysing links between social context and gene flow within wild populations.
Proximity to humans affects local social structure in a giraffe metapopulation – Monica L. Bond, Barbara König, Derek E. Lee, Arpat Ozgul & Damien R. Farine
Using one of the largest‐scale metapopulation networks ever studied in a wild mammal, the authors reveal that social communities of giraffes living closer to human settlements exhibit weaker relationship strengths and more exclusive social associations—a signature of a disrupted social environment based upon previous experimental research.
A citizen science approach reveals long‐term social network structure in an urban parrot, Cacatua galerita – Lucy M. Aplin, Richard E. Major, Adrian Davis & John M. Martin
Using the specially designed mobile phone application ‘wing‐tags’ to collect citizen science reports, the authors build social networks for wild sulphur‐crested cockatoos in Sydney, Australia. The results reveal long‐lasting social associations within a wider fission‐fusion social system, adding to the evidence for social complexity in parrots.